Quick Trip Down The Cape

Cape Cod is a truly wonderful place to visit, but NOT between the Memorial Day and Labor Day holidays when heavy traffic and large crowds prevail. We like to get out there for a few days once things settle down but while the weather is still nice. Thanks to two generous Boondockers Welcome hosts we had three nights of free camping!

The day we rode our bikes along the Cape Cod Canal bike trail was picture perfect.

During this, our second visit to the Heritage Gardens and Museum in Sandwich, the hydrangeas were magnificent. The North American Hydrangea Test Garden is the most comprehensive collection in the United States. I had no idea there were so many different varieties.

Art installations are placed throughout the grounds. Any thoughts on this one?

These tiny flowers are precious, but check out yellowish, inflated bladder-like fruits in the background. This plant of the milkweed family has a plethora of common names including hairy balls, monkey balls, elephant balls, and bishop’s balls.

The primary reason we went to the museum this year was Al’s desire to see their exhibit of Indy 500 cars, which included this fun interactive display.

The Cape Cod Museum of Natural History was closed, but that didn’t keep us from exploring their hiking trails. We hiked through the woods to the area of Wing’s Island, including the salt marsh and the beach along Cape Cod Bay.

A short but sweet getaway.


New York State – Finger Lakes and ADKs

WestyFest XI on the shore of Cayuga Lake, New York.

Westy owners doing what they do best – helping another Westy owner!  Al consults the vehicle manuals (at right) while Bill holds two cell phones close together so the Westy owner with a problem in Buffalo can get advice directly from Bill’s mechanic. Luckily they were able to join us later that day.

Don’t they all look swell? Not bad for 14 year-old vehicles, eh?

Al points out a few things under the hood to Ernesto.

Some of the Westy folks enjoying the potluck dinner. Photo credit to Phan Ngu Lee.

Al with the manual again while Jeff gets to work on a radio problem.

Al trimming his hair at our lakeside campsite while most of the gang is out exploring the area. We’d done plenty of exploring over the previous two weeks to be happy to stay put.

Our Westy mermaid (aka Sebby) takes to the waters at sunset.

View of Cayuga Lake from HaRVy. Thank you Bill for once again hosting the Westy-Fun-Fest.

While perusing our Road Atlas I noticed a call out for the Erie Canal Village. I checked out the website and decided we could stop there for our lunch break on our way from the Finger Lakes district to the Adirondacks, our next destination. Even though the website did not indicate its demise, it apparently has not been open for a while.

It would have been fun to take a little cruise along the canal in this boat, but I wouldn’t step aboard now. It looked like it used to be an interesting place. Sad to see it all abandoned and rotting.

Campsite view at Eighth Lake in the ADKs.

Sunrise walk around the lake before breakfast. Nobody about except me and the ducks.

President Calvin Coolidge and his wife stayed in this cabin at White Pine Camp during the summer of 1926. I had been here for a writer’s retreat last April and decided to bring Al to experience this unique place with me. Very rare occurrence for us to sleep in a room while HaRVy is parked outside, but it was the only way to stay there and it was well worth it.

Use of the property’s boats is included for all guests and we took advantage of the kayaks all three afternoons of our visit. The camp is on Osgood Pond. From there we ventured to Osgood River…

the Jones Pond inlet where we ran into this incredible beaver dam – a true masterpiece…

and through two canals into Church Pond.

White Pine Camp boat house and bridge across lagoon.

What’s at the other side of the lagoon – Chinese bridge and tea house.

Hike along Osgood Pond.

A bit of Adirondack Chair relaxation.

Watch out for the roots – they are everywhere!

The main lodge from one of the hiking paths.

The building we stayed in – former servants’ quarters, but now lovely accommodations.

A fond farewell as we head back home.

More Quebec

From Riviere du-Loup on the Gaspe Peninsula (see previous post) we caught a ferry and crossed the St. Lawrence Seaway to Sainte Simeon, Quebec.

First on, but not first off.

After the crossing, we drove north along the St. Lawrence and caught the free ferry to Tadoussac. We were quite surprised to find this remote village packed with tourists.

The next morning we watched the fog lift over Tadoussac harbor while we ate breakfast aboard HaRVy. We then took a lovely hike around Islet Point where this great view of the ferries crossing the Saguanay Fjord appeared. Later we drove the fjord’s entire 65-mile length inland to the Lac St. Jean area.

Along the Route de Fjord scenic highway – the Saguanay River.

We lunched alongside the fjord at the lovely village of Sainte Rose du Nord.

Our campsite view at Camping Des Chutes in Dolbeau-Mistassini in the Lac St. Jean area.

Though scenic, the rapids were annoyingly loud late at night when sleep was desired.

After rounding Lac St. Jean, which was rather anticlimactic, we headed south on Route 155.  Much of this drive followed the Saint-Maurice River. Unfortunately, the weather was not conducive to photography.

Eventually we entered a vast area of farmland.

Québécoise must be very religious. We’ve never seen so many Catholic churches anywhere else.

Not sure exactly what was going on here…?

We crossed back over the St. Lawrence River on the bridge to Trois-Rivieres and headed nearly directly south into New York State where we spent the night with Boondockers Welcome hosts whose property and home in Churabusco is surrounded by a huge wind farm.





Gaspe not Gatsby

On the road again…

We wanted to tour the Gaspe Peninsula portion of Quebec seven years ago as part of our grand tour of the Canadian Maritime provinces, but the season closed in on us before we could do so. This summer has been very hot in Rhode Island so we decided to head north to cool off and explore that area. Not a lot of American tourists visit the Gaspe and a few of our friends actually thought it was called the Gatsby until we corrected them.

It’s a LONG drive north from our house in Rhode Island to Canada. We had to drive through Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and the entire height of the State of Maine. After one night at Walmart we spent the second free-camped at this launch ramp in Ashland, ME.

We stopped at Portage Lake where the annual Whoopie Pie Festival was taking place on the town tennis courts. Unfortunately, the set-up was so pathetic I did not feel comfortable taking photographs, so you’ll have to use your imagination.

We enjoyed this view of Eagle Lake during a lunch break and a comfortable overnight with Boondockers Welcome hosts in Madawaska, Maine just below the Canadian border.

While camped at Sugarloaf Provincial Park in Campbellton, New Brunswick we took a ride on the chairlift with the mountain bikers.

Riding back down felt very strange, but the views were great.

When we were up this way before, we also missed a small segment of the New Brunswick coast so we headed down that way first and returned to Campbellton to head out the Gaspe a couple of days later.

LOTS of lighthouses up this way. This one is at Dalhousie.

Very cool sundial.

This rustic sign drew us off the highway at Black Pointe, NB…

Luckily we didn’t miss this turn down the dirt road…

To follow this sign to the best campsites…

Where this view welcomed us at our chosen location.

We had plenty of time to kick-back and enjoy the quietude.

Al spent a good half hour watching this great blue heron stalk fish.

Here you can see how close to the beach HaRVy is parked.

Looks a bit like the coast of Maine, doesn’t it?

A pretty nice sunrise welcomed a new day.

Youghall beach in Bathurst, NB where we had lunch and took a walk.

Youghall is considered one of the top ten beaches in New Brunswick and was one of the few we saw with fairly soft sand rather than rocks.

We drove back to Campbellton on the highway (much faster than coast road) for a night with another Boondockers Welcome host before heading out onto the Gaspe Peninsula.

Carleton-sur-Mer from Mont Saint Joseph.

Look closely to see where we boldly boondocked at Quai de l’Anse-a-Beaufils near Percé.

Breakfast overlooking the top tourist attraction on the peninsula, Percé Rock.

Bike ride to land’s end at Forillon National Park.

Continuing our drive around the peninsula we visited several scenic lighthouses…

Walked on many rocky beaches…

Observed numerous large Catholic churches, nearly one in every village…

And were amazed by this barge load of lumber.

We had a very pleasant night camping at Le Pirate Motel & Campground where the festive decor prompted me to get a bit silly.

This large scale art project, called Le Grand Rassemblement (The Grand Gathering in English), is the work of Canadian artist Marcel Gagnon.

Over 80 figures have been placed along the shore at varying depths in the river so that they appear and disappear with the tides. We just happened to arrive at low tide so we were able to walk among them.

The latest addition to the piece is a series of tethered wooden rafts. When the tide is low, the rafts simply sit on the sandy beach, but when the water rises the rafts hold the statues up on top of the water.

Al was intrigued by the unusual architecture at the Pointe de Pere lighthouse.

Lunch at the National Park du Bic was our last stop on the peninsula before taking the ferry across the St. Lawrence to mainland Quebec.

While the Gaspe Peninsula was more residential and less scenic than anticipated, we enjoyed the local people very much. While most did not speak much English, they always offered a warm welcoming smile. It is also a remarkably RV friendly area with an abundance of reasonably priced campgrounds, a plethora of lovely rest stops with very nice bathrooms (flush toilets and hot water), and even free roadside RV dump stations. Much more accommodating than any of the lower 48 states.



This is a WIDE country with lots of states to pass through from one coast to the other, especially if the preferred route is mostly back roads. My last post left off about midway across Texas.

Turkey, Texas – Home of Bob Wills. He and his band toured in the bus shown above.

Texas back road. Lots of breathing space.

Arkansas back road. No truck traffic here!

Our next stop of note was at Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas. The Fordyce Bath House (above) was proclaimed the best in Hot Springs in 1915. In 1989, the building, which was closed since 1962, reopened as the park visitor center and museum after extensive restoration work.

The bath house facilities were quite lavish. This stained glass ceiling was above the women’s spa.

The gymnasium features state-of-the art equipment from 1915. Other exhibits include furniture and equipment of the time: steam cabinets, mechano-therapy equipment, tubs, massage tables, sitz tubs, chiropody tools, and hydrotherapy equipment.

Today, the Quapaw Bathhouse offers a modern-day spa with coed pools and spa services.

The Grand Promenade provides a picturesque place to stroll and enjoy the elegance of a bygone time.

One of 47 hot springs around the immediate area.

A touch of spring.

How is this for good marketing? Of course we had to try it. Good, but not the best we’ve ever had.

The park is quite spread out, so we had to drive to visit different areas. On our way to one scenic area we came across Tiny Town USA. While we felt the $6 admission fee was a bit steep, the owner, whose father and grandfather had built the “trains across America” exhibit over 68 years, provided an entertaining guided tour.

Except for the trains and metal cars and trucks everything was handmade from repurposed materials.

Too bad we came through on a Sunday as Miss Vicki’s in Trimble, Tennesee could have been an interesting lunch stop.

The Eiffel Tower in Paris, Tennessee.

Historic entrance at Mammoth Caves National Park in Kentucky. Featured is the world’s longest cave. We toured just a small portion of it and hiked around other areas of the park a bit.

Here we are camped out at Chris and Drew’s house on Possum Trot Lane in Leburn, Kentucky. They just moved here from Southern California last summer.

I went to grammar school with Chris and don’t believe we’ve seen each other since 6th grade. Gotta love finding old friends on Facebook!

The Kentucky DOT had their work cut out for them building the roads here. Most seem to be carved through hard rock mountains.

Many back road homes across America feature a collection of seemingly discarded stuff. This is actually a rather moderate example, but one I could inconspicuously photograph.

Lots of curvy-wurvy roads in these parts.

I found Tamarack in Beckley, West Virginia on my AllStays Camp and RV app listed as a free place to overnight park, but it turned out to be much more. Tamarack: The Best of West Virginia is the nation’s first purpose-built showcase of regional handcrafts, fine art and cuisine. It comprises a warmly decorated retail store, working studios for resident artisans, a fine art gallery, a theater, A Taste of West Virginia food court, and a conference center. Al and I enjoyed perusing the very high quality artisan arts and crafts plus a simple meal out before retiring in their quiet parking lot. Thank you West Virginia. Every state should have a center like this!

Our lunch view in the Alleghany Highlands in Virginia.

Falling Spring Falls is a breathtaking 80-foot cascade.


And more driving…

On the last morning of March we awoke to these ice crystals on the skylight above our pillows.

We got snowed on in Upstate New York the morning of our last full day of driving. It was straight home from here. Maybe we should have stayed in California a bit longer…

We thank all our wonderful friends (old and new), family members, fellow Westy owners, in addition to the Boondockers Welcome and Harvest Host members who have enriched our travel experience in so many ways. We deeply appreciate your hospitality!



Heading Home… No Rush

We reluctantly headed east for the long drive back home. Our first stop was in the town of Joshua Tree, CA.

Jennlyn and “Bear” welcomed us at their humble off-grid estate just outside the northern boundary of Joshua Tree National Park. We had been introduced online by our mutual friend Jim in Rhode Island. He thought we might get along because we are both native Californians. We had a great, albeit brief, visit and hope to return for a longer stay sometime in the future.

After several months of property restoration work they moved onto these 5 acres of land that Jennlyn’s grandfather homesteaded after serving in World War II.

There wasn’t much left of the cabin when they took it over. The windows had all been broken out, the kitchen cupboards had been removed and repurposed by a neighbor, and the floor was covered with rodent droppings.

They have built a propane powered shower, a bathroom shed, and a yoga/laundry platform among other improvements.

Here is their medicine wheel and campfire area. They also have a great outdoor kitchen.

This beautiful rock-pile is just across the road within a great area to hike.

Jennlyn gave us a tour of their property and nearby geologic features, fixed us a home-cooked meal that included smoked bacon from a freshly butchered pig, and allowed us to spend a peaceful night in HaRVy. Thank you!

We prefer to “Shunpike,” staying off the major highways as much as possible. We seek out quieter, more relaxing routes (less trucks) that often provide more interesting scenery while still allowing us to drive our preferred speed of 55 mph.

Kickin’ back on Route 62 somewhere between Joshua Tree, CA and Parker, AZ.

After another quiet night with Boondockers Welcome hosts in Salome, AZ we visited the Desert Caballeros Western Museum in Wickenburg, AZ. A stunning collection of western art is exhibited here. The painting above is called “The Bug Picker.”

Camping in the Good Ol’ Days …?

After a restless, noisy (trains, planes & automobiles) night camped out in the parking lot of a Bass Pro Shop in Mesa, AZ we were off towards New Mexico on Routes 87 and 260.

From the desert to the top of the Mogollon Rim where pine trees prevail. What a contrast!

High wind warnings had us traveling faster than we prefer towards Albuquerque. Route 60 East provided wide open spaces. We then turned north on 30 and onto 177 where the scene above suddenly appeared as we approached  El Malpais National Monument.

Scenic surprises like this are what driving cross-country on the back roads is all about.

In Albuquerque, NM we spent an afternoon hiking around Petroglyph National Monument, one of the largest petroglyph sites in North America, featuring designs and symbols carved onto volcanic rocks by Native Americans and Spanish settlers 400 to 700 years ago

Our primary reason for stopping in Albuquerque was to meet-up with new found Westy owners Liesbet and Mark. We spotted their vehicle in Joshua Tree National Park in early January. They were out hiking so we left our card on their window. I soon received an email message from Liesbet and we’d been trying to get together ever since.

Besides owning nearly identical vehicles, we have all spent time sailing, so we had a lot to talk about. They also made us the most excellent home-made pizza ever!

Zesty and HaRVy meet. Our visit took place at a beautiful hillside home at which they were house sitting. The exquisite view from our “campsite” featured sparking city lights and bright stars at night plus hot air balloons at dawn. We wish we could have stayed longer and hope they will visit us in Rhode Island someday.

Absolutely FREE campground at Bosque Redondo Lake near Fort Sumner, NM.

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read this billboard as we drove by, so we turned around and drove back to take this photo. What do you think?

I spotted this abandoned building off the side of the road in Taiban, NM so we turned around again. Little did I know that this former Presbyterian church has quite a history.

Lots of this type of scenery in Texas. At least there isn’t much traffic. High wind warnings again got us on the road early. By 2:30 we called it a day as the gusts increased.

The welcoming committee at Caprock Canyons State Park in Quitaque, TX. The Texas State Bison Herd is the last remaining group of southern plains bison. If curious, read about them here.

Potentially dangerous wind gusts kept us camped here an extra day, but not from taking a couple of hikes around the canyons. With luck we will be back on the road tomorrow with fair weather and light breezes.






Our Last California Beach Days

One last parting shot of remarkable Jalama Beach north of Santa Barbara. We were very lucky to have sunny, mostly calm weather in this notoriously windy spot.

We were sad to leave this magical place, but glad to be heading a bit further north to meet up with fellow traveling friends Keith and Cheryl at Morro Bay. We originally met this fun couple in New Brunswick, Canada and have since crossed paths with them in Newfoundland, the Florida Everglades, Colorado and California. Good times all.

Morro Rock is the westernmost remnant of a chain of ancient volcanoes.

We hiked a nice boardwalk trail around an extensive estuary here. The Morro Bay State Park campground, where we stayed, is located right across the street from this marina.

The highlight of our visit was a spectacular bike tour along the Bluff Trail at Montana de Oro State Park. Our ride began here at Spooner Cove.

Don’t get too close to that drop-off!

The gang’s all here!

Our beautiful ride featured beaches, rock islands, natural bridges, coves and more. Outstanding!

Watching whales in the distance…

…and sea creatures up close.

After our time in Morro Bay we turned around to go back south before heading homeward. Avila Beach provided a lovely backdrop for lunch on an unusually warm winter day.

The next day we spent a couple of hours at Refugio State Beach, where it was not quite as sunny or warm. It was, however, destined to be our last walk in the sands of the California Coast, so we savored our time there.

We have taken great pleasure on many California beaches this winter. Soon we turn east towards Arizona and eventually to our home on the East Coast. This summer we will enjoy some beautiful beaches in New England.

But first there is the big cross country drive…